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How do our children grow in maturity?

February 1st, 2010

Take a look back on your life; what were the circumstances that caused you to experience growth?

I remember in elementary school, I wanted a pair of boots, because all my friends had boots. But my mom said they were impractical and a waste of money (she was right of course). I cried and lamented for several days.

Can you imagine I cried over a pair of boots! Even though I was upset, I did recognize my own immaturity. Through this experience I learned that I can live without my “wants”; and I learned to be less materialistic.

Of course, that’s just a little incident in my life that I happen to think of. But it shows that it is often through disappointments, crisis and setbacks that we grow and learn. It seems to me that life works like that. Troubles often have a way of producing in us a stronger character.

I’ve mentioned here that my husband and I are in the real estate business. No need for any further explanation, you already know we are having financial struggles this last couple of years. Yet, I have to say, this “financial crisis” has done more to strengthen my marriage and straighten out my priorities than when times were good.

In the same way, our children mature through troubled times. I do not mean to say we purposely give them difficulties, which parents can easily do! In no way am I implying that children’s sufferings due to adults’ crimes and wrong decisions are in any way good for children.

I am saying that as a parent, we often have the mistaken notion that hard times are necessarily bad for our children, leading us to do everything we can to make life easy for our kids.

Here’s an example. I go with my daughter to the mall, and we see some nice jeans for $40. No way am I going to spend that much on a pair of jeans that she will outgrow in a year.  I say no and I feel guilty about it. I end up buying her a cheaper t-shirt just to make her happy.

Here’s another example. My son has to stay up late working on a project, and I feel bad that he has to work so hard. What do I do? I stay up to help him.

Did I ever consider the possibility that natural disappointments and hard work are not such bad things? If I myself grow through experiences like those, why do I not think that my children will do the same? Why do I feel I have to rescue them from some of those inevitable troubles of life?

Sure,  every parent naturally wants to give the best to their children. But what do we consider “best”?

I’ve come to realize that I do not have to give them whatever they want with all the gadgets and convenience for an easy life. Just as trees need a little storm to grow strong, things like hard work, living with less, having to wait, and walking to school in the snow (yes, uphill both ways…) will help our children to mature.

Enter the larger, faster iPad. It’s a complex computer simplified, which makes it a perfect fit to those whose remaining life is too short to spend it defragging drives.

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  1. It’s so tempting to “save” kids from these situations, but it’s so true that letting them handle it themselves is a one of the best ways of fostering maturity.

    This blog, run by child psychology expert Dr. McIntire, just posted an entry about using “parent power” in these situations – check it out if you’re interested!


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